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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel


Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC


Rheinzabern samian (RHZ SA)

Four samples

General appearance

Sherds in this fabric are frequently orange-brown (2.5YR 5/8), although they can also be pale dull pink (nearest value 10R 6/8, estimated value 10R 7/8 or paler). Surfaces are dark red-brown (10R 4/8) and smooth, with a reasonable quality slip, which though often pimply is lustrous in the best of examples. There are often finger marks visible in the slip around the footring. The fabric is hard with a smooth fracture.

Hand specimen

The appearance of the fabric in the break varies. Typically it is a mixture of well-sorted inclusions (0.1–0.2mm), comprising black iron-rich grains, limestone, quartz and mica. Either iron-rich grains, limestone or mica may dominate (as common), while the remaining inclusions are sparse. Quartz grains are only occasionally visible and may occur up to 0.4mm. Less often the fabric is dominated by abundant well-sorted limestone (<0.2mm), with other inclusions barely present or absent, when it then resembles the Blickweiler fabric.

Thin section

An isotropic matrix is visible in thin section, containing common muscovite and brown mica, common silt-sized limestone, sparse quartz and rare opaques. Other inclusions are larger quartz, some polycrystalline, or rare feldspar, measuring 0.1–0.2mm. Some poorly mixed clay fragments are visible in thin section as pellets, up to 0.4mm.


Dagodubnus, Florentinus, Perpetus, Quartinus


Museum of London


Colchester Archaeological Trust (small but representative group); Museum of London (including Shadwell); Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer (Germany)


Bernhard, H, 1981 Zur Diskussion um die Chronologie Rheinzaberner Relieftöpfer, Germania 59, 79–93

Bird, J, 1986 Samian wares, in The Roman quay at St Magnus House, London. Excavations at New Fresh Wharf, Lower Thames Street, London 1974–78 (L Miller, J Schofield & M Rhodes), London Middlesex Archaeol Soc Spec Pap 8, 139–85

Bird, J, 1995b 3rd-century samian ware in Britain, J Roman Pottery Stud 6, 1–14

Bittner, F-K, 1986 Zur Fortsetzung der Diskussion um die Chronologie der Rheinzaberner Relieftöpfer, Bayerische Vorgeschichtsblätter 51, 233–359

Ludowici, W, & Ricken, H (eds), 1948 Die Bilderschüsseln der römischen Töpfer von Rheinzabern, Speyer

Oswald, F, & Pryce, T Davies, 1920 Introduction to the study of terra sigillata

Ricken, H, & Fischer, C (eds), 1963 Die Bilderschüsseln der römischen Töpfer von Rheinzabern. Textband mit Typenbildern, Materialien zur römanisch-germanischen Keramik 7, Bonn

Simon, H-G, & Kohler, H-J, 1992 Ein Geschirrdepot des 3. Jahrhunderts Grabungen im Lagerdorf des Kastells Langenhain, Materialien zur römanisch-germanischen Keramik 11, Bonn

Webster, P V, with contributions by Dannell, G B, 1996 Roman samian pottery in Britain, Practical handbook in archaeology 13

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 27: Fresh sherd break of RHZ SA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 27: Fresh sherd break of RHZ SA (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 27.1: Photomicrograph of RHZ SA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 27.1: Photomicrograph of RHZ SA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)